Qualcomm claims sub-6 GHz speed record

5G global network connection

Momentum behind 5G Advanced continues to build, with chip maker Qualcomm showing off its capabilities by reaching a new speed milestone.

Using its first 5G Advanced modem, the Snapdragon X75, Qualcomm was able to aggregate four carriers of sub 6-GHz spectrum giving it a total of 300 MHz to play with. Added to that was 1024 quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM), and the result was a peak downlink speed of 7.5 Gbps. The speed was achieved under test conditions with a dedicated 5G standalone (SA) network.

Qualcomm noted that 4x carrier aggregation (CA) will let operators reuse their various spectrum holdings, while 1024 QAM means each transmission can carry more data.

While there is a yawning gap between real-world conditions and what’s possible in a lab, the demo nonetheless offers a tantalising glimpse of what might be rolling out in the next few years.

“Snapdragon X75 5G Modem-RF System is the smartest wireless modem we have ever created and is designed for the future, with a 5G Advanced ready architecture, made to help operators define the next generation of networks around the world, said Sunil Patil, vice president of product management at Qualcomm Technologies, in a statement on Wednesday. “We look forward to continuing to work with industry leaders to power the best-in-class connectivity experiences and transform industries across consumer, enterprise and industrial use cases,” Patil said.

What those experiences will actually look like to the average punter is still an open question.

Qualcomm’s press release mentions video streaming, downloads, online gaming “and more.”

Yes, more bandwidth will support crisper video resolutions, even faster downloads, and more immersive gaming experiences. All positives for end users. But are any of those particularly mind-blowing when it comes to convincing people they should open their wallets and upgrade their mobile service? Maybe, once prices are on par with what they pay already.

As has been discussed extensively with regards to 5G non-standalone (NSA), enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) hasn’t exactly drummed up much in the way of excitement when it comes to the latest generation of mobile network tech.

What with fancy features like slicing, standalone together with 5G Advanced holds much greater promise than NSA, which goes some way to explaining the push from the likes of Qualcomm and others.

Earlier this week the UAE’s Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA) used 5G Advanced technology and 400 MHz of 6-GHz spectrum to achieve peak throughput of 10 Gbps.

The regulator said the “cutting-edge” network technology will support more advanced IoT, smart cities, and metaverse services – all of which were promised in some form or other with plain old 5G.

More bandwidth offers not just new capabilities, but pressure to demonstrate their value too.

In the 3G era, when mobile networks were under-utilised, there was much talk of finding the elusive ‘killer app’ that would light the touchpaper and get people sufficiently excited about mobile data to pay for it. There were a few levers that operators could pull, like pricing and data allowances, but ultimately it was desirable devices like the iPhone, which offered an app store and an intuitive means of accessing the Internet, that did the trick – and the first one wasn’t even a 3G device.

Now we’re in the 5G era, and it feels as if the mobile industry is waiting for another iPhone moment.


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